This day trip connects you with the best of Wadjemup / Rottnest Island, by bike or by bus. You’ll visit some of the island’s most picturesque beaches, snorkel or swim in turquoise waters, take in the view from Wadjemup Lighthouse and West End, and spot resident quokkas along the way.
With just one day to explore, set your alarm early and hop on the first ferry you can. There are three operators running ferries to and from the island – Rottnest Express, Rottnest Fast Ferries and SeaLink – so find the departure point and timetable that suits you best. Be sure to book the latest return too, so you have plenty of time to soak up the Rottnest Island day trip experience. Departing from Hillarys, Perth or Fremantle, your adventure starts on the ferry. Watch the coastline stretch out behind you and keep your eyes peeled for marine life like dolphins, seals and even whales from August to December.
The ferry arrives at the Thomson Bay settlement, where you’ll find cafes, shops and transport options. Take a moment to pause at the commanding sculpture at the island end of the main jetty, Koora-Yeye-Boordawan-Kalyakoorl (Past-Present-Future-Forever), which explains the significance of the island to the Whadjuk Noongar people.
Head over to Pedal & Flipper Hire to collect your bike and any extra equipment like a snorkel set. If you’re not cycling, head to the ticket booth at the main bus stop to get your Quokka Coaches Island Explorer bus pass. This hop-on-hop-off service circumnavigates the island giving you the freedom to explore as you please. Alternatively, if you like the idea of cycling but don’t want to commit, try the bike and bus package with Pedal & Flipper Hire. You can cycle as far as you like and once you’ve had enough, just leave your bike in one of the racks around the island and take the bus for the rest of the journey.
If you’re planning on having lunch at one of the beautiful bays and beaches around the island, either get something from the General Store or grab a takeaway from one of the many cafes and pop it in your bag for later. Be sure to fill up your water bottle before you leave the settlement as well. There are limited water points once you’ve left Thomson Bay.
Starting out, head south towards Kingstown Barracks and some of the most picturesque beaches on the island. Choose between Parker Point, Little Salmon Bay and Salmon Bay — all perfect to admire the gorgeous view, take a walk on the sand or hop in the water for a refreshing swim. Little Salmon Bay is a snorkeller’s paradise and even has a seasonal marine snorkel trail, with interpretative signage under the water.
There’s a huge variety of marine life along the island coastline. If you want to experience this mesmerising underwater world, check out our guide to snorkelling.
After this stop, it’s time to head to the Wadjemup Lighthouse in the centre of the island. Constructed in 1896 and standing at approximately 38 metres, this landmark is the fourth tallest lighthouse in Australia. Admire the breathtaking views of sparkling water and Perth City in the distance. On a clear day you can make out the pine trees that line the coast at Cottesloe.
Take your time to explore the other buildings in the precinct — the Signal Station, the Battery Observation Post and the Women’s Royal Australian Navy Service House — all linked by self-guided interpretive signage.
Continue along the southern side of the island past Green Island and Mary Cove. As you move to the western most part of the island you’ll notice the landscape looking more rugged and wild.
As your Rottnest Island day trip draws to a close, there’s just enough time to catch an island sunset. Watch the changing sky in Thomson Bay, or head back to Pinky Beach to see the sky light up behind the iconic Bathurst Lighthouse. Just be sure to head back to the main jetty 15 minutes before your ferry, farewelling Wadjemup until you visit again.
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We look forward to welcoming you to Wadjemup / Rottnest Island soon.